About Me

Kent, United Kingdom
I have the perfect family but still struggle to find the light in the darkness of post-natal depression.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

The pursuit of perfection

Why is it so hard for me when things don't go to plan?
Don't answer that question!
Actually, although today has been a challenge, hence this rare midweek post, it could have been a lot worse.
But I do find it difficult when I don't live up to my own expectations. I know I can do things so much better, and be so much better, and when things largely outside my control intervene it's hugely frustrating.
On the positive side: I can recognise that it's my own expectations that lead to the feeling of pressure and disappointment when something goes wrong. I know that if they do go wrong it's not because I am a bad person or useless or stupid.
On the negative side: I still need to work on handling that disappointment and pressure in the moment. And avoiding it in the future. And it is still a battle to prevent it becoming an all-consuming, crushing emotion.
But tomorrow is another day, and for that I am grateful. I am also grateful for this blog as an outlet for these self-indulgent ramblings, and to you, my long-suffering readers!

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

"I didn't realise you were a mum...."

That's a comment I've heard quite a few times lately and I'm puzzled by it.
Mostly it's at my new place of work and I can think of several reasons for it, when I think logically:
1) We're so busy we don't really have time to get into deep personal conversations.
2) There's no room on my desk for photos, although Miss T is my screensaver - but I've always got programmes open on the screen.
3) I often stay late, so people assume I have no nursery pick-up etc to do (when the truth is that the ever-helpful grandparents are on duty, again...)
But it does bother me, if I'm in a tired and emotional state. Do I not seem motherly? And when they find out I do have a daughter, and a small one at that, their shocked expressions seem to indicate that I should be at home rather than pursuing a career.
It's a fact that the industry I work in can be male-dominated, perhaps because it demands unsocial hours that are difficult to do with children if there are no ever-helpful grandparents on hand, but one of my new colleagues has two small children and no one seems to express surprise to her.
Perhaps part of it is my fault - in the same way I saw my pregnancy as irrelevant to my work and was irritated by the constant questions whenever I was out trying to do my job, Miss T is not part of my working day, although I often miss being with her.
But I simply don't have time to engage the office in fascinating discussions about her latest achievements, and nor does anyone else.
That may sound harsh and I'm sure my work-life balance would not work for everyone. Nor do I think it will necessarily work for me for the next 20 years. But for now, working hard and playing hard (with Miss T on my days off) is an approach that works for me.
When I'm at work, I'm totally at work. Hours can whizz by with no thoughts of lost shoes, the school run or bedtime battles popping into my head. Of course, this is only possible because I know she's 100 per cent safe and happy with Mark, my parents, or our chidminder and I'm incredibly grateful for all of them for allowing me to concentrate on work.
But when I'm at home, and Tasha is awake, I'm totally at home. Since signing the contract for my new role, meaning I could give up most of my freelance commitments, I don't let work intrude on my days off and I try to give her my full attention, which means we have had some lovely days together.
It also means that there are few evenings out with Mark and weekends away are a rare luxury. Actually, not a luxury - almost a trial. I don't want time away from her. I want to spend time with her.
How bizarre it feels to be writing those words, on this blog!

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Something to share...

Here's a little something I wrote for elsewhere that I thought some of you might like to read. Some of you, I fear, will be horrified....
I was prompted to share it after another puddle-splashing session by Miss T that ended with her sitting in the aforementioned puddle. Thank goodness for the ever-present emergency spare clothes!

WE'VE had swine flu - not literally in my case - so the latest headline-grabbing health scare seems to be E-coli.
Of course it is a serious illness and the tales of toddlers with organ failure are enough to strike terror into the hearts of parents everywhere, but the hysteria does seem to me to be another symptom of the germ-phobia sweeping this country.
While I don't encourage my own small daughter to eat her lunch in the toilet or to ignore basic hygiene, I also don't disinfect her toys or insist she washes her hands every time she strokes one of our two hairy hounds.
I'm sure there are some people reading that with a shudder and a squirt of anti-bacterial hand spray, but I don't want her life to be restricted by fears that are blown out of all proportion.
It's impossible to visit a farm now without dire warnings about risks to your health, and the handwashing police lurk by every pen.
When we stopped at a motorway service station last week I was astounded to discover people are now encouraged to disinfect toilet seats before using them - and before using the "wave to activate" no-contact flush system to ensure there is absolutely no chance of touching anything yukky. Apart from on the door handles and locks, of course...but there's always a wad of toilet roll and that ever-present anti-bacterial hand rub...
In our house, the 10-second rule is still in force: drop a piece of food or cutlery on the floor and as long as it's been there less than 10 seconds it's fine to pick up.
And when we go to the park or the beach we pick up all sorts of treasures to bring home without a moment's thought about all the nasties that could be lurking on them.
My sisters and I grew up literally eating mud pies (and worms, and drinking strange concoctions made using chalk and water) and survived to adulthood without any major episodes of illness.
And we had a lot of fun along the way, unlike the children I see who find their playtimes interupted every few minutes for a spray of this or a squirt of that to keep them squeaky clean.
Children get dirty; it's a fact of life and another of those quickly-discovered parental lessons.
But clothes can be washed, babies are bathed and it's amazing what you can achieve with hot water and soap.
So we'll keep on stroking animals, playing on the floor and creating masterpieces from mud and I hope my daughter will remember a childhood of fun instead of fear.